Finding a foundation shade that matches your skin perfectly can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re starting your search online. Glow or matte? Buildable or full coverage? Do you need to consider your undertones?
To help you out, we’ve called on YSL expert makeup artist Fred Letailleur to answer the most burning questions. From the best foundation colour match to finding your skin’s undertone once and for all: keep reading for all the tricks you need to know.
What’s Your Undertone?
Undertones can be an intimidating concept even for the most seasoned beauty experts. An easy mistake is looking for a foundation that only matches the surface of your skin: your skin tone. But there’s a lot more to it than that: your undertone, the underlying colour beneath your skin surface.
“Skin tones and undertones are two very different things. Your skin tone will range between fair, light, medium, deep or very deep, to name a few. As for undertones, most people will fall into three categories: cool, warm and neutral. Undertones have got nothing to do with how dark or light your complexion is. This means that any skin tone can have neutral, cool or warm undertones – there’s no such thing that a fair skin can’t be warm or a deep skin can’t be cool!” Fred says– YSLBeauty National Artist.
Whilst your skin tone may change according to the season, your undertone will always stay the same. Your undertone will correspond with the foundation shade you choose – in other words: identifying the right undertone makes a big difference when ensuring a foundation colour match that is a perfect match for you.
First and foremost, Fred recommends looking at the veins on your wrist; you’ve got cool undertones if your veins are blue, neutral if they’re blue/green, and warm if they’re green.
If you’re still uncertain, try a jewellery test next to make sure you nail your undertone once and for all! If gold jewellery looks more flattering against your skin, you have a warm undertone. If silver suits you better, your undertone is cool, and if they both do the trick, you likely have a neutral undertone.
Those with warm undertones tend to have golden, yellow or olive hues to their skin, whilst those with cool undertones typically have pink, red, or bluish hues to their complexion. A mixture of both pink and yellow hues is typical of neutral undertones.
At YSL we make it easy by labelling every foundation with the undertone it suits. Foundations labelled with B are best for those with neutral undertones; warm undertone foundation is labelled with BD and the label BR identifies foundation for cool undertones. To find out more, put our Foundation Finder to the test.
Finding Your Coverage:
Next, you need to figure out what coverage is best for you. Think of how much you want your natural skin to show through. If you want a natural coverage, where your skin appears subtly enhanced, you want to select a foundation that offers low to medium buildable coverage.
If this appeals to you, try the much-loved Touche Éclat Foundation With over 7,400 5* reviews, up to 24hr breathable coverage and 24h hydration, the buildable coverage formula allows you to easily layer the foundation, moving from a barely-there look to medium to full coverage if desired.
AT YSL, we believe in owning your skin and wearing it proudly. But if your skin is prone to blemishes, or you’ve got redness, scars, or pigmentation and looking to hide this, a full coverage foundation might be what you’re looking for. These will generally give you a longer-lasting look, smoothing out any imperfections to help boost your confidence. Low, medium or high coverage: it’s your choice.
Finding Your Finish:
When choosing the finish of your foundation, consider both your skin type and the desired final look. A glowy finish will give you a more luminous, dewy, sun-kissed look, while a matte finish will keep your skin looking natural whilst reducing shine.
A matte foundation is usually preferred by those that have oilier skin, as a glow finish may amplify the shine, making your skin appear greasy.
“On normal to dry skin types and mature skin use a luminous finish instead of matte. Matte foundations can emphasise fine lines or wrinkles if you’re wanting to avoid enhancing them" Fred explains – YSL Beauty National Artist.
Having oily skin ourselves, we swear by our All Hours Foundation liquid foundation. It’s a velvety formula that gives a flawless matte look, is transfer-free, and has got you covered for up to 24h.
Matte or glow, if you want your skin to feel hydrated and your base to stay in place, consider applying a primer before your foundation. A staple of beauty lovers, Touche Éclat Blur Primer will help keep your foundation in check, and with its pore-blurring technology and radiance-boosting formula, it creates an incredibly smooth complexion base that looks lit from within. It is the UK’s #1 luxury primer* for a reason.
How To Test A Shade
When trying to find the perfect colour match of foundation, avoid testing it on your arm, as this area is usually darker than the skin on your face. Similarly, your neck doesn’t get as much sun as the face, so although you do want a seamless blend from face to neck, you shouldn’t use your neck alone for swatching. Fred’s recommendation is to draw stripes from the bottom of the cheek, over the jawbone to the top of the neck to see how well the shade blends.
Also remember to check how the foundation looks in natural daylight, and when that’s not possible, use an LED lamp to replicate natural lighting. This will provide the most accurate answer to whether or not the foundation shade works with your skin.
Understandably, you will want to try your foundation shade before buying. If you aren’t sure which work for you, check out our Virtual Try-On Tool and test up to 70 foundation shades within minutes. If you’re still stuck, or you wish to be professionally shade-matched, our beauty experts are at hand to help. Book a one-to-one consultation here. Yes, it’s on us!
What Are The Signs You’ve Got The Wrong Shade?
There are a few easy hacks to tell if your foundation colour match isn’t quite right, says Fred.
First, you should check if your face and your neck match. The complexion of your neck is pretty close to the complexion of your face – so if you’ve suddenly got a mismatch after putting on foundation, you’ve got the wrong shade.
Secondly, avoid using a darker foundation shade to give yourself a tan. Instead, opt for a bronzer to add extra warmth and enhance your natural features, using a highlighter to create luminosity. Ultimately, foundation should always match your natural skin tone. If there’s a clear shift in tone from your jawline to your neck, you’ll need a new shade.
Thirdly, if your foundation starts to look ashy or grey – it’s too light for your undertone. Foundation will appear ashy if it doesn’t blend with the natural hues beneath the surface of your skin. Go for a foundation with a warmer undertone instead. Similarly, if your foundation is making your skin look orange or red, you should try a foundation for cool undertones instead.
Note to self: whether you’re searching for the best foundation for dark skin, olive skin or pale skin, there’s no one size fits all, because it all depends on the combination of your skin type, specific skin tone and undertones that make you…you. So, take your time and explore. Your perfect foundation shade is out there and now you have all the knowledge you need to find it!
How To Build Coverage:
So, you finally have your perfect shade and formula. What now? Always start with thin layers of foundation, whether you’re going for low, medium, or full coverage. This allows you to slowly build your foundation, without having to start afresh if you go too far.
For the final touch, set your makeup and keep your skin looking flawless throughout the day with a setting spray. To complete your look, we recommend our Top Secrets Setting Spray . It locks in your makeup and makes your skin feel hydrated for hours.
*Source: The NPD Group Inc.® UK, Prestige Makeup, Face Primer sub-segment, Product level, 52 w/e 26/12/2020, value sales